Strange Fruit Records was established in 1986 by Clive Selwood primarily as an outlet for releasing live session recordings made by bands for the John Peel Radio show. These were released in the Peel Sessions series of 12 inch EP’s. The name of the label was taken from the Billie Holliday song, Strange Fruit, written by Abel Meeropol.
The label had the aim of generating sufficient revenue from the recordings of the ‘big name’ artists to allow the release of recordings by lesser-known artists.
The label’s first release – SFPS001 was New Order’s 1982 Peel Session, in July 1987, and was followed by sessions from some of the biggest names from the punk rock and post punk eras. Recordings from as far back as the 1960s were also released by the likes of Jimi Hendrix. As well as individual sessions, the label also released albums compiling several sessions by the same artist.
Strange Fruit was successful enough to generate the subsidiary labels Nighttracks (sessions from radio One’s Evening Show), Raw Fruit Records (concert recordings from the Reading Festival), and Band of Joy (BBC session recordings from the 1960s and 1970s).
The subsidiary label Strange Roots was launched in 1994 which released session recordings by world music and roots artists from Andy Kershaw’s radio show.
Selwood sold Strange Fruit records to Pinnacle Records in the mid 1990’s but continued to run the label. Strange Fruit closed in 2004 after the Strange Fruit’s parent company, Zomba, merged with BMG. The labels final releases in 2004 were Syd Barrett’s The Radio One Sessions (SFRSCD127) and New Order In Session (SFRSCD128).